AGREEMENT ON THE DIVISION OF THE CITY// 02. 1993. • MUHAMED KRESEVLJAKOVIC// MAYOR OF SARAJEVO
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Mayor of Sarajevo
AGREEMENT ON THE DIVISION OF THE CITY
‘One day the Presidency informed me that I have to receive a man to whom I should give all of the information that he requests. He arrived in the afternoon, and we had a two-hour conversation, and it was absolutely clear to me that this was a person who needed information for an important decision. I had the feeling the decision had already been made somewhere else in the world, and that its substance was that Sarajevo should be divided. Sarajevo was under siege, and it was to be divided into, let’s say conditionally into a Muslim-Croat section, or Bosniacs section, if you will - and a Serb section. In our conversation, I attempted to oppose such an idea, and at one point he said, ‘you know, you are the capital, and you have to consent to it.’
I then said, ‘If this is because we are the capital, sir, please inform them there that I propose that the capital be Banjaluka, and then you can divide that city however you want to, but leave the city of Sarajevo whole.’ Unfortunately, he continued to insist upon his plan, and then he left. And we agreed to meet the next day. And then for the first time, during the war unbelievable things continued to happen to us. First we didn’t believe that there would be a war in BH. Then when it came to BH, we didn’t believe that the war would come to Sarajevo, and then it came to Sarajevo. Then when there was a war in Sarajevo, we didn’t believe that everything that happened would happen, that they would kill children, that they would kill old people, that they would attack the hospital, the delivery room, et cetera, et cetera. And all of a sudden I became aware that the city was about to be divided. I thought of Nicosia; Berlin was first. That one started spinning through my head, but you have to understand that we had already been through more that two years of war. Two years of a dog’s life for every person in Sarajevo, regardless of who they were, what they were, and in what position they were. And then I just wanted to see how the people would react. During the war I had a very good friend who would help me out whenever I had to make an announcement to the public, and I would usually do that on Studio 99. So I called up Adil Kulenovic and told him that there was a person staying in Sarajevo who apparently had come to carry out technical preparations for the division of the city into sections. ‘Well, what are we going to do?’ So I said, ‘Why don’t you say that tonight. Say that it came from some sources and that you found out about it. Then we’ll see how the people react. Maybe the people just would like to see the war over, and would agree to dividing the city just to end the war. The radio program began at around eight. It was a sensation for the city, the telephones were ringing off the hook, but what was most interesting was the fact that not one - they were all energetically against the division of the city. And this really gave me the strength the next morning to call up that representative of the international community and to say, ‘Please don’t come to see me,’ and that he could not talk to me about any of it.’
• The Geneva negotiations move to New York.
• Sarajevo is surrounded by five rings :
1. The Bosnian Serb Army 2.The UN 3. The HVO 4. The black market 5. The current government
• The Bosnian Serbs shell mourning processions, funerals and hospitals in Sarajevo.
• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, meets with the Pope. From Sarajevo he conveys the Pope’s message to the world: “Stop the savagery, let humanity prevail!”
• Lord Robert Owen comes out against the USA, who had rejected a plan that favored the Bosnian Serbs.
• SUBNOR, an association of soldiers from the Second World War, makes an appeal to its members to fight against facism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and for communal life.
• Advice to patients: If you go to the clinic, bring a log, because the heating situation is critical.
• The city is struck by wartime hyperinflation .
• The International Center for Peace receives representatives from the Helsinki Citizens Forum from France who need to monitor the situation in Sarajevo, and then report to the European and world public whether civil society exists in Sarajevo.
• The UNHCR suspends flights.
• High schools begin to operate at neighborhood council centers, business premises, apartments.
• Radio “Studio 99” reports news on the division of the city. Panicked listeners contact the program. Vance-Owen mediators are in the city; this information originates from them.
• Killed and wounded lay on the airport runway. During the run across the tarmac UNPROFOR reflect lights on it, giving Bosnian Serbs the chance to aim at the moving target. Afterward UN procedures are followed – those caught are placed in UN vehicles and the blue-helmets take them back to wherever they came from.
• The best sportsmen are announced for BiH in '92: chess players Vesna Basagic and Ivan Sokolov.
• The City Assembly decides that Sarajevans, in a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia, will not accept humanitarian aid until a humanitarian convoy reaches Eastern Bosnia.
• The first wartime cinema opens, “Obala”. Screenings are held in Sarajevo basements.
• Because of the city government’s refusal to accept humanitarian aid, supplies are left lying on the airport runway. Pilots refuse to land because of the piles of undelivered food.
• “Oslobodjenje” is visited by Bianca Jagger.
• The UNHCR decides in Geneva: Government officials cannot be transported on UN planes. The previous month, Geneva had approved local reporters’ use of UN planes from the besieged city.
• The Civil Defense requests two containers from the city authorities to protect Sarajevans from snipers at intersections. The Civil Defense is unable to tow them because they have no fuel.
• Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), halts humanitarian aid to BiH, while the executive council sticks to its decision to refuse humanitarian aid out of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia. Once this decision is reversed the air bridge is reestablished.
• New York, February 20, 1993. The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a new resolution extending the mandate of the 13,000 blue-helmets in Croatia. This resolution provides for the temporary extension of the UN mandate through March 31st. Resolution 807 urges the UN Secretary General to provide additional arms in order to enhance defense capabilities and allows the use of arms in the event of an attack on the peacekeepers, under paragraph 7 of the UN Charter. In addition, the temporary extension of the mandate includes the same tasks as the previous two terms, meaning the neutralization of heavy arms and the corresponding withdrawal of warring sides.
• “Oslobodjenje” proclaimed the world’s newspaper of the year.
• The information blockade of TVBiH is broken – the programming includes Studio Zenica live during the TV news.
• At gatherings across the world, amid protests against the impotence of the EC and UN to halt the bloody aggression in Bosnia, posters appear: “In Bosnia, Europe dies”.
• New York, February 22, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution on the formation of an international court for war crimes within the territory of the former Yugoslavia. According to the text of the resolution, all war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia from the first of January 1991 will be reviewed. All those charged with war crimes, mass killings and rapes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity will be brought before this court.
• The executive council of the city halts the boycott of humanitarian aid.
• The “Alsace shipment” arrives in Sarajevo. It is at the time the largest humanitarian convoy to arrive in Sarajevo.
Apart from the trenches which were used for fighting there were many trenches within the city which served primarily the civilian population. By using those labyrinths between buildings the citizens were protected against sniper fire when going to fetch water, when going to work or to meet each.